Can you take the guesswork out of buying brand new high quality records?
The answer is no and it must forever remain no.
Many audiophiles are still operating under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity (or any other label you care to name), with their strict “quality control,” managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site.
Such is simply not the case, and it’s child’s play to demonstrate how mistaken this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things:
- Good cleaning fluids and a machine,
- Multiple copies of the same record,
- A reasonably revealing stereo, and
- Two working ears (I guess that’s actually five things, my bad).
With all five the reality of pressing variations — sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic — for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible. (A good example of a test we ran with some sealed Heavy Vinyl pressings can be found here.)
The fact that this is a controversial viewpoint in 2023 does not speak well of the audiophile community.
The raison d’être of the Limited Edition Audiophile Record is to take the guesswork out of buying the Best Sounding Pressing money can buy.
But it just doesn’t work that way. Not that I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our entire website is based on the proposition that nothing of the sort is true. If paying more money for an audiophile pressing guaranteed the buyer better sound, 80% of what we do around here would be a waste of time. Everybody knows what the audiophile pressings are, and there would be nothing for us to do but find them and throw them up on the website for you to buy. Why even bother to play them if they all sound so good?
I was guilty of the same mistaken audiophile thinking myself in 1982. I remember buying the UHQR of Sgt. Pepper and thinking how amazing it sounded and how lucky I was to have the world’s best version of Sgt. Pepper. Yay for me!
If I were to play that record now it would be positively painful. All I would hear would be the famous MoFi 10K boost on the top end (the one that MoFi lovers never seem to notice), and the flabby Half-Speed mastered bass (ditto). Having heard really good copies of Sgt. Pepper, like the wonderful Hot Stampers we have on the site most of the time, now the MoFi UHQR sounds so phony to me that I wouldn’t be able to sit through it with a gun to my head.
- Half-Speed Mastered Disasters
- Half-Speed Mastered Mediocrities
- Half-Speed Mastered Winners
- Half-Speed Masters – The Complete List
To learn more about records that sound dramatically better than any Half-Speed ever made (with one rare exception, John Klemmer’s Touch), please consult our FAQs, found here: